Wow! We have a new Firestorm Viewer Release. (3/21/2022) This one has a bunch of new stuff. The Firestorm Blog explains what is new and the changelog explains what has been fixed. As usual, Inara explains in more detail on the Modem World blog than Jessica does on the Firestorm Blog. However, for the quick read go with Jessica’s.
The viewer is a quick download. It is now 140MB, up from the previous 120MB. The installation is simple. Launch the downloaded file. No clean install is needed.
The Splash Screen is of course the first thing you’ll see. It was first seen in the previous version. A bunch of people didn’t like it. That is normal for SL residents. No matter what one does about half of SL peps won’t like it and will complain.
The screen hasn’t changed much. There are ‘operational’ improvements. It works better. It is still a lot of information in one place. But it is easy to ignore.
The FS Team has taken a different approach to destinations than the Lab did. When the Lab first added ‘What’s Hot Now’ to their destinations list several people pointed out that busy places we often full. Clicking to TP to a full region resulted in a failed TP and people wondered how new people would see/react to the error. I don’t know how much testing the Lab did or didn’t do but I do know the Lab decided to limit entries in their list to regions that were not full. Thus, no TP fails. Noobs were protected.
Inside the FS Viewer, the destination guide uses the Lab’s destinations. So, only the splash page on viewer startup shows the really BUSY regions, like Exhale with 91 people in region. Versus the Lab’s panel showing Freebie Galaxy as the most populous with 28 people. Whether this is a good thing or not… you decide.
Performance… this is a performance viewer… I’ll take that idea with some salt. My performance metrics are a bit empirical. I go to three places I have been before and compare them to the previous viewer version.
So, my front porch: 6.6 FPS @ 512m DD*
18.4FPS @ 128m DD
Green Room 2200m: 100± @ 128m DD
Nelsonia Safe Hub: 22.6± @ 128m DD w/18 avatars
*Note: these measurements above are with the viewer installed and no performance changes from my previous install.
Front porch: 10 FPS @ 512m DD
Front porch: 21 FPS @ 128m DD
Green Room @ 2100m: 125 FPS @ 128m DD
” ” ” : 160 FPS w/o Atmo-Shader
Nelsonia Safe Hub @ 128m DD w/26 avatars: 18 FPS
So, it looks like the version is about 15 to 20±% slower. But what about the new top menu choice World->Improve Graphics Speed? Interesting panel. Says the avatars are using half of my render time, 49%. And I have two HUDs on which might give me a 1% boost if I take them off. Uuummm… I’ll live with that loss.
I played with the Improve Graphics Speed and I won’t be using it. It does what they say. But, if you know what the items are in Preferences->Graphics (tab) – General then you do not need this panel. You’ll have already balanced the quality of your render versus FPS.
As best I can tell this is a panel is for those unfamiliar with gaming graphics. Nice idea and I suspect it will help some people.
360 Camera… this feature has been around for a time. In this viewer, it is cleaned up and works well. The FS team points us to the Lab’s instructions on using the camera, HERE, from September 2021. Fortunately, Inara points us to the Top Menu->Avatar->360 Snapshot. Because that is not where I expected it to be.
The default file names are huge. Example: sl360_Coyote_4096x2048_128_20220323_160327.jpg
File size depends on viewer settings and the quality setting from the 360 Snapshot panel.
The image uses the settings from Phototools/Windlight. I suggest you do all your image set up in the viewer. Editing 360-images in Photoshop is currently possible using Top Menu->3D->Spherical Panorama. Adobe is going to be removing 3D editing from PS in a coming release. I have no idea when that feature will disappear.
I think they are moving/leaving the 3D image processing over to Lightroom Classic.
Also, I did not find a good tutorial on editing 360-images with PS. They exist but all are a bit lame, IMO. However, it is possible to edit the image and make adjustments just as you would with any image. And you can rotate the image in the PS editor to see all parts.
This is the best tutorial I found: Edit 360 Images in Photoshop – 2017
Adobe is removing 3D because it is buggy. I can verify that. So, using PS 2022 is not an ideal way to edit 360-images. This is NOT an intuitive process. So, make sure you understand the workflow in the tutorial I linked to.
For me, this release of Firestorm is a bug fix. I see the 360-image thing as a toy. I’ve played with it and I am done. It is nice and the viewer does a good job on the image. So, if you are into 360 images, this is your viewer.
The performance thing is another feature I don’t need but I think it will help the less techy people.
The slower performance is the price I pay for having the bug fixes.